Saturday, December 28, 2013

Mystery/Crime Reading Challenges Recap 2013

To continue my end-of-the-year reckoning of reading challenges, I will talk a little about the OTHER mystery challenge, the Mystery/Crime Reading Challenge 2013 hosted by A Bookish Girl. In addition to reading Vintage Mysteries (I'm linking to my own post rather than repeating those reviews here), I went back on my vow not to start any more series until I’d finished my other ones. 

I began this trespass with Charles Finch’s A Beautiful Blue Death. It was good enough for me to want to read the other Charles Lenox sequels, but honestly aside from introducing the characters (who promise to develop nicely over the next few books) I didn’t think it all that memorable.

Vintage Mystery Recap 2013

As the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Thirteen comes to a close, it’s a good time to look back and reflect on all that we have accomplished. I refer to what we have accomplished reading-wise, of course. As usual I read more than I thought…but less than I wanted.

This year I tried something different, signing up for reading challenges. The problem with this was that instead of reading off my To Be Read Pile (an eclectic and growing monstrosity that resides both in my head as I peruse my online library catalog as well as surrounds my nightstand), I was forced under duress to choose other books according to a theme.  Although I selected challenges I thought would help me whittle down that TBRP…well, let’s just say it didn’t quite work out.

But now it’s the end of the year, and those challenges have come due! Like library books!  A sense of panic overwhelms me! Fine, I’ll just start with my Vintage Mystery reviews, which were for the Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge 2013 hosted by My Reader’s Block:

Monday, December 16, 2013

Reviewing P.G. Wodehouse's "Laughing Gas"

It was my first exposure to P.G. Wodehouse, and I didn’t know it until years afterward. This is how it all began: my devious mother got me a “comedy book on cassette.” Already I have to interrupt myself to explain cassettes to the young and ignorant whippersnapper readers.  Are you sitting comfortably? “Cassettes,” dear children, are from the era you’ve probably been taught in history class to refer to as B.C.D., that is Before CD’s. CD’s, you may vaguely recall, are those coaster-shaped things that you used to use before you got an iPod and started downloading everything. 

But as I was saying, my mom checked out this “comedy” book on cassette from the library.  Maybe she was being her usual devious self. Maybe she had intended to listen to it in her nonexistent spare time, and when she realized the futility of this intention she passed it on to me so I wouldn’t annoy her by listening to The Adventure of the Speckled Band for the fortieth time. Either way, I listened to it.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Reviewing "A Country of Vast Designs" by Robert W. Merry

While I love history, there are certain time periods (usually the 1700’s) that I don’t really know about. Often I’ll pick a nonfiction book by virtue of my ignorance of its topic.  

“Hey,” I’ll say to myself, “I know next to nothing about President James Polk and the Mexican/American Wars and Manifest Destiny. I think I’ll listen to this audio book recording of A Country of Vast Designs: James K. Polk, The Mexican War, and the Conquest of the American Continent.”

Monday, December 2, 2013

Thoughts on de Tocqueville's "The Old Regime and The French Revolution"

History, it is easily perceived, is a picture-gallery containing a host of copies and very few originals. ~ The Old Regime and the French Revolution by Alexis de Tocqueville, Chapter VI

I would say I’m a pretty eclectic reader in general.  While fiction—particularly 1800’s British Literature—is probably my favorite to read for pleasure, I also enjoy poetry, drama (to a lesser extent) and nonfiction.  Of the vast nonfiction subjects I read, history would probably be the top choice.  Yet while I've read a great deal on ancient history, I've come to notice there are quite a few “blind spots.”  One of these blind spots is the French Revolution period. 

It’s a bit ironic, actually, that I haven’t read much nonfiction on the era that is just around the time people started writing the fiction books I love.  Most of what I understand about Regency England, for example, is from Jane Austen’s works.  However, I’m slowly trying to fill in the gaps, knowing that the reality of the world where Austen and my other preferred authors lived will inform me more about the fictions they created.